Fyodor Telkov, Tales

Fyodor Telkov documents reality and magic, looking to recreate a new world in the Ural region of Russia.

Fyodor_Telkov_Skazy-16.jpg#asset:899© Fyodor Telkov, from the series Tales

Fyodor Telkov was born in 1986 in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. He graduated from the State Social Pedagogical Academy of Nizhny Tagil. Today, he is a member of the Union of Photo Artists of Russia, and he lives and works in Yekaterinburg.

He was the recipient of the Photojournalism Andrey Stenin Award and was named as one of the Young Photographers of Russia in 2016. He has participated in numerous international and regional photography exhibitions including Photo Biennial Foto Fest in Houston (2012), Festival di Cortona (2013), The Young Photo 1/2" See in Russia (2013), Pingyao International Photography Festival (2013), and the 3rd Ural industrial Biennial (2015), among others. Telkov's solo exhibitions include: “Hidden” (gallery “Window”, Chelyabinsk, 2009), “Windows” (Galerie 4, galerie fotografie, Cheb, Czechia), “Small stories” (“the House of Metenkova” a photo museum, Ekaterinburg). He continues to work in the fields of art, reportage and documentary photography.

Fyodor-Telkov-2.jpg#asset:922© Fyodor Telkov, from the series Tales

How did you begin to work on your project, Tales?

I began to work on the project in 2013. Then there was a period when I was tired of documentary photography and I was feeling more like I wanted 'to create' or 're-create' the world; the reality. I like working in the region and I wanted to make the project about what can't be touched in this part of Russia, but that exists in the local's subconsciousness.

Where does the title of your project come from?

The name is a reference to the works of the famous Ural writer; Pavel Bazhov (his main works were written in the first half of the 20th century). He was the first person who engaged in considering Ural mythology. One could say that he created the world of the Ural demons - in Russian language the title of the project reveals this better. The matter is that "Tales" in Russian is "Skazky", and the project is called "Skazy" - it is about ancient legends.

Fyodor_Telkov_Skazy-4.jpg#asset:900© Fyodor Telkov, from the series Tales

Would you say myths from the past are present in today’s contemporary life in the Ural region? 

Yes, they are.

First, all these mythical layers are in the local's subconsciousness. The culture and different religions have been mixed up among the people in this area. This is how the Ural people were formed. Second, many locals remain living here, and therefore they keep the culture and beliefs alive. Third, one important layer is the factory culture - today, Ural still remains the most industrial region in the country. Last but not least, the local nature is still considered important. It is what created the Ural of today. Thanks to nature, people can hunt, fish, raise deer, horses, sheep, and have the space to build factory plants.

I understand a bear represents an important cult for the Mansi people. Are there any other nature related cults?

In the Ural, Pagans still hold prayers in the woods, and they believe in the forces of nature. It seems to me that this Pagan belief in the power of nature was strongly absorbed in the factory culture. For example, miners believe today that in the depth of the mines there are some kind of 'beings', and it is necessary to be friendly with these 'beings' and not to harm them. These beliefs date from long ago, perhaps even longer than we think, and this comes from a time when each place had its own spirit.

Fyodor_Telkov_Skazy-2.jpg#asset:901© Fyodor Telkov, from the series Tales

Can you talk about how your projects Smog and Tales are connected?

These two projects share one territory. But, Smog talks about the life of the Urals as the industrial region during a post-industrial age. It is a documentary story with a narrower subject - it's about the life of monotowns which completely depend on industrial enterprises.

Tales is a project about the Ural outlook: an industrial part enters there too, but it is not the main concern.

You have self-published a book in the past. Do you intend to make a book with this project?

Yes, I plan to publish a book, but I am still thinking over the contents and looking for sponsors as well.

So far, together with Zhenya Chaika, we printed a series of cards on the project (my photos and her texts). We have issued one edition, and we plan to print more volumes.

To learn more about this project, visit Fyodor Telkov's PHmuseum profile.

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